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Dating : Are dating apps simply gambling machines designed to get you hooked?

h2>Dating : Are dating apps simply gambling machines designed to get you hooked?

As someone who is happy to admit to being one of the 57 million people that use or have used the Tinder app (or the millions using other dating apps that utilise a ‘swipe’ functionality, such as Bumble or Happn) — generally referred to as “Dating Apps” in this article — I couldn’t help but start to think about what the motivations could be for these Datings Apps providing us these “free” platforms to assist us on dating missions. What were their motivations?

More importantly, I started to contemplate what motivation Dating Apps have to find their millions of users a “long-term match” (assuming all users were looking for that (we know that not all are, but a lot certainly are))…

Many people would know that you when sign up for any website or app without paying you must, by nature of living in a capitalist society, be trading something of value to that organisation. That something is personal data, which is then monetised to generate a revenue stream for the service.

If data collection, and monetisation of that data, is the core currency of Dating Apps, it follows that their main objective must be to keep their users active for as long as possible (to enable to collection of yet more and more data with revenue generating potential).

The more I thought about this idea, the more I realised that there was really no business motivation (read: financial motivation) for Dating Apps to find their users a “long-term match”, since that would risk losing them from their app altogether (and thus reducing their revenues).

The more I thought about this idea, the more I realised that there was really no business motivation (read: financial motivation) for Dating Apps to find their users a “long-term match”, since that would risk losing them from their app altogether (and thus reducing their revenues).

Then it got me thinking, if Dating Apps know a lot (sometimes even most everything) about their users’ preferences (not only the basics of age, gender, location, but specific romantic preferences about the user garnered from user swiping history and in-app chat history) then, hypothetically, it would be possible for Dating Apps to game us…

But how would they game their own users to keep them using their app for longer? Could they intentionally set it up to get you addicted to the chase rather than finding someone? I started to contemplate a number of potential ways — hypothetically — that the Dating Apps could set it up so that their users become hooked on the swipe rather than interested or able to find someone and make a long-term relationship of it.

  • as a new user, the Dating App floods your swiping options with all the top ranked users of your preferred gender (yes, Dating Apps use such rankings— Tinder calls it a ‘Desirability Score’) to give the impression that everyone on the app is of “top quality”;
  • as soon as you start swiping away at all these great potential candidates the Dating App is immediately building up your preference profile;
  • you are loving it! You are getting some matches with amazing, wow-worthy people, and starting to chat, even going on some dates, but since you have only just started this new Dating App and there seems to be SO MANY “top quality” options on there, rather than settle into something, you take the option to keep swiping — you are now starting to swipe every day;
  • by now the Dating App has your preferences nailed they know what you like. So rather than flooding you with all their top rated users, they start to pair it back. They start to offer you up their second-rank user profiles, less enticing but not bad all the same;
  • in the midst of the second-rank user profiles now coming your way you keep thinking how sure you are that were tons of amazing, wow-worthy people on this Dating App just last week!? — and then you see one (yes, there are still reasons to swipe again after all!) — the Dating App has started gaming you now — in order to keep your interest in swiping high they insert the odd user who matches your preferences almost perfectly to keep you thinking there are still lots of potential perfect match options available to you. You are now swiping more than once a day; in fact, you are swiping and catching up on a chats all throughout the day just to keep things moving — you would want to miss a potential match opportunity;
  • by now you have all but forgotten the art of trying to meet a new potential date using the analog method (aka finding ways to talk to people you find attractive at school, work, coffee shops, bars, libraries, or other public places), and you are practically hooked to finding that next amazing, wow-worthy match you just know is going to show up for you to swipe on sometime soon;
  • as time goes on you have been on a number of dates from the Dating Apps and have had some fun along the way, but you are sure you still haven’t met that “long-term match” — there are so many options on the Dating Apps so why settle now?
  • sometimes you wonder whether one of those dates you went on could have actually been that “forever person” — you start to realise that after every date you have been on as soon as you return home (or sometimes sooner) you have an urge to get back on the app to start swiping again mindlessly… looking for another match and to start the process all over again… sometimes you even purchase one of those ‘boosts’ or extra credits that the Dating Apps offer so that you can reveal or ‘super-like’ other users in hopes this will result in a higher match rate, but you’re really not quite sure how it all works…
  • you’re now hooked on the swipe and it’s going to take a lot for you to give it (and all the potential amazing, wow-worthy people you could meet) up.

What do you think?

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Dating : I should have listened to all of you!

POF : I’m living in the wrong state for dating according to this app